The River Kwai Experience

The River Kwai Experience

Heading west, out of Bangkok we made a short stop to see Nakorn Pathom, the tallest pagoda in Thailand, before heading for Kanchanaburi, where the P O W camp in which so many allied prisoners suffered during WW2 has been recreated. You can pay your respects at the War Cemetery before walking over the real bridge over the River Kwai (as opposed to the one in the movie!) should you have the inclination, and later taking a train across it before heading up river on a long tailed boat. Our destination was the River Kwai Jungle Rafts and, whilst there were the occasional signs of human activity, a house or telegraph pole, for the most part, thick jungle came down to the water's edge. From time to time, there were sandbanks with water buffalo sitting on them or half submerged in the water, but little else until we arrived at the floating hotel that was our destination. This award winning resort is situated in a quiet surroundings and is the essence of simplicity. Solar power is used, candies and lanterns are used as there is no generator or mains electricity. It is as natural an environment, set in tropical forest and mountains, moored to the river bank. Rooms are simple but very comfortable, with wood and thatch being the predominant materials used. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability and preserving the culture of the local Mon tribes people, for whom the hotel provides employment. You can go on an elephant trek through he jungle, have a traditional massage at a fraction of the price you would pay in Bangkok or just sit outside your room and relax, surrounded by flowers, watching the world go slowly by. Whilst there is an emphasis on simplicity, the food is excellent and varied, with both Western and Thai on offer and there is electricity to keep plenty of excellent, cold Thai beer in the fridge! It's off the beaten track and a very different experience, with limited availability, but one that everyone we met there was thoroughly enjoying. When visiting Thailand, it's worth making just that little bit of extra time to do more than just Bangkok and/or a beach resort. And, if you fancy something a similar experience but with a bit more sophistication, there is now alternative hotel with air-conditioned rooms and more modern comforts!

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